A business plan is a complete description of a business and its plan for the next one or more years. It explains what the business does or will do if it is for a new business. It suggests the target audience for the products or services and it provides financial forecasts demonstrating overall viability, indicating finances available and explaining the financial requirements.
In a situation where you are already in business, your business plan should reflect your growing experience.
COMPILING THE BUSINESS PLAN
Business plans are written based on information collected. Information could be collected from a variety of sources. For most business, the business plan is the main method of convincing prospective funders that the business proposal is viable and that the proprietor has the commitment and determination to succeed. Therefore, it is important to take the time to research the content carefully and to present it professionally.
Your business plan should be presented in a form that is quickly and easily understood. It is very important for you to consider your business plan as a marketing tool. The plan should be honest and be able to present you in the best possible light.
PRESENTATION OF THE BUSINESS PLAN
The cover page gives the reader an instant impression of the business, so it needs to look professional. It should show the business name and logo and your name. A well laid out cover page will present a professional image to funders and will attract their attention and interest. You should make every effort to have your plan typed because it will make the document neater and easier to read.
- The Summary: It is the first in the content and presentation of a business plan. The summary should briefly describe the business and highlights its purposes. Your summary should contain the following:
- The strengths of the business.
- The expected turnover.
- If already in business, it should give a brief history of how you progressed over the years.
- It should indicate total amount required by the business and how much money you need to raise as well as the proposed resources.
- The Business: This section should briefly describe the purpose and the goals of the business. Whether or not the business has started, explain who owns it and what prompted the start of the business.
- Products and Services: Describe what you are or intend selling in a language which any reader will understand. In this section:
- Explain why customers will want to buy your product and services.
- What needs it will fulfill.
- Describe the benefits.
- Write about the unique features of your products and services.
- The Market: In this section, you define clearly who your target audience will be. You will determine through your market research. You need to:
- Demonstrate that the market exists.
- State the overall market potential.
- Estimate the short and long term turnover.
- Explain the competition that exists.
- How many competitors you will have.
- Is there likely to be further competition in the future?
- Why your product and service is going to be preferable.
- What the barriers to this market are and how you are going to overcome them.
- Marketing Plan: This is your marketing objectives and goals. The objectives should be quantifiable, measurable, challenging and achievable. It should have the following:
- The product you are going to offer and how you are going to develop them to make it better in the future.
- The location of your business and the way you will distribute your products and services.
- The price at which you will sell your product after you have estimated the overall cost of production.
- You need to explain your promotional strategy.
- Management and Organization: This shows your ability to carry out tasks to make the business work.
- Break-even Analysis: Here you need to state at what point of your sales you start to make profit.
- Sensitive Analysis: This looks at unforeseen circumstances and how you might possibly overcome them. It answers the “what if” questions.
- Financial Requirement: This indicates the total financial requirement of the business showing how much you are providing and what amounts you require form other sources.
- Appendices: Some of the necessary materials to be included in the appendices are:
- Quotation for equipment.
- Legal information e.g. partnership agreement.
- A copy of your primary questionnaires.
- Relevant secondary research information.